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May 22, 2013

State Department’s Religious Freedom Report Recognizes Severity Of Global Anti-Semitism

jewish-cemetery-desecration

Desecration of Jewish cemetery

On May 20, 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released the State Department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2012, describing the U.S. assessment of the status of religious freedom in every country. The report covers government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations and individuals, and U.S. policies to promote religious freedom around the world.

This annual report demonstrates the American commitment to the fundamental democratic right to practice one’s religion without interference from government and signifies and underscores the role governments must play in protecting that right.  It shines a light on a number of important issues specifically related to the persecution of religious minorities, including government sponsored discrimination, religious bigotry and hatred propagated by the media, and violence directed at specific religious denominations.

While addressing all forms of religious discrimination, the U.S. government’s role in monitoring and combatting anti-Jewish expressions around the world is an important feature of the report. It highlights incidents of anti-Semitism on the governmental level, in politics and within the media, and documents acts of vandalism and violence directed at Jews. These include:

Iran – The government’s continued Holocaust denial and propagation of anti-Semitic stereotypes, including pronouncements by President Ahmadinejad regarding “Zionists…ruling the major world affairs” for some 400 years.

Egypt – Senior Muslim Brotherhood officials, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badei, frequently issue anti-Semitic statements, while the media airs anti-Semitic programming, including the TV series “Horseman without a Horse” based on the notorious anti-Semitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The widespread hatred and violence directed at Egypt’s Coptic Christian community is also mentioned.

Venezuela – Anti-Semitism is quite prevalent in the government controlled media, particularly in opinion pieces and editorial cartoons. The recent presidential candidacy of Henrique Capriles, a Catholic of Jewish descent, was a main focus of the media’s anti-Semitism. 

Chile – There has been an increase in the number anti-Semitic public statements, particularly across social media platforms. Incidents of anti-Jewish vandalism are on the rise, and a number of physical attacks against Jews were documented, including an assault on a 14 year-old by a group of Neo-Nazis.

The State Department’s report also makes a number of references to ADL’s work in highlighting and combating global anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe. These include:

Austria – ADL’s training projects with the Ministry of Education on Holocaust education.

Greece – ADL’s statements calling on government authorities to do more to counter the anti-Semitic rhetoric and violent actions of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political party.

Hungary – ADL’s statements calling on the government to enforce a new law that would hold members of parliament legally accountable for espousing hateful remarks. This law was in reaction to an anti-Semitic statement by a member of country’s neo-Nazi Jobbik party, who called on parliament to “assess how many MPs and government members are of Jewish origin and who present a national security risk to Hungary.” The report also cited ADL’s survey on anti-Semitic attitudes in Hungary which showed a significant rise in the percent of the population harboring anti-Semitic attitudes.

Turkey – ADL’s statement criticizing a cosmetics company for featuring Adolph Hitler in a shampoo commercial that ran on state television.

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 can be found here.

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February 21, 2013

Iranian Terror Plots Continue To Spread Around the Globe

Even as Iran seeks to mend ties with Argentina over the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Iran continues to be implicated in terror plots on Western, Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.

Yesterday, Nigerian security services announced the arrest of three men accused of surveilling targets for a possible Iranian-backed attack in the city of Lagos. The three men, all Nigerians, were tasked with gathering “intelligence on public places and prominent hotels frequented by American and Israelis” according to a State Security Service spokeswoman.  She also claimed that the leader of the cell sent pictures of the local Israeli culture center to his Iranian handlers.  The leader has confessed to spying on behalf of Iran.

Also yesterday, a man on trial in Cyprus for scouting targets where Israelis were likely to be present admitted to being a member of the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah.  He was arrested less than two weeks before a bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, killed five Israelis in July of last year.  Bulgaria officially implicated two members of Hezbollah in the attack earlier this month.

Since the beginning of 2012, Iran and its proxies have been implicated in a series of plots and attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets, including:

  • January 2012: A failed bomb plot targeting Israelis in Thailand was linked to Iran-backed Hezbollah.
  • January 2012: Azerbaijani authorities arrested two men linked to Iranian intelligence over a plot to attack the Israeli Ambassador and a local rabbi.
  • February 2012: Iranian intelligence was linked to the bombing of an Israeli embassy vehicle in India which injured the wife of the Israeli Defense Attaché and three others.
  • February 2012: Israel blamed Iran after a bomb was discovered targeting an embassy car in Georgia; it was defused before it exploded.
  • February 2012: Azerbaijan arrested members of a cell working linked to Iran and Hezbollah in a plot to target the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish cultural center.
  • February 2012: An explosion in Bangkok led to the arrest of three Iranians.
  • March 2012: Azerbaijan arrested members of a cell targeting the Israeli and American embassies on behalf of Iran.
  • April 2012: Intelligence services reportedly searched for Iranian agent in Turkey suspected of plotting attacks on Western, Israeli and Jewish targets.
  • April 2012: India expelled an Iranian national listed by the Iranian consulate as a government employee after he was found casing Israeli and Jewish sites in the city of Pune.
  • June 2012: Two Iranians were arrested in Kenya in possession of chemicals that authorities claimed would be used for bombs. They reportedly were plotting to attack Israeli, American, British or Saudi targets.
  • July 2012: Cypriot authorities arrested a dual Swedish-Lebanese citizen accused of surveilling Israeli targets for a possible attack for Iran-backed Hezbollah. 
  • July 2012: At least two members of Iran-backed Hezbollah killed 5 Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver in the bombing of a tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria.

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March 23, 2012

Turkish Ad Uses Footage of Hitler to Sell Shampoo

Adolf Hitler is the star of a Turkish commercial for men’s shampoo. The ad for Biomen, which is now appearing on Turkish television, features a video of Hitler angrily gesticulating, with a Turkish voiceover calling on men to purchase the shampoo. 
“If you’re not wearing women’s clothes, then you shouldn’t be wearing woman’s shampoo,” the voiceover says. “Here it is. A real man’s shampoo, Biomen.”
The ad is yet another example of how Holocaust-era images are used in advertising around the world, which contribute to the trivialization of and desensitization to the unparalleled horrors of the Holocaust.
Earlier this year, photos of a Nazi concentration camp were used in a promotional campaign for a Dubai gym, including an image of the railroad leading to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the slogan, “Kiss your calories goodbye.” After receiving complaints, the founder of The Circuit Factory gym in Dubai, Phil Parkinson, apologized and removed the photo.
In a letter to the Turkish Ambassador to the United States, ADL called on the Turkish government to condemn the ad. The Turkish Jewish community has also released the following statement:
“We follow with sadness and regret the use of Hitler figure in the Biomen Men Shampoo advertisement, which was brought to the screen in recent days.”


“Hitler, who massacred 6 Million Jews in gas chambers for the sole reason of being Jewish and also killed its mentally disabled citizens on the purpose of creating “a pure Arian race,” had created the darkest pages of the world history. Using him in an advertisement for whatever reason is an unacceptable situation and could not be accepted by us at all. This is beyond all ethics as well as a huge insult to human rights.”

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